Norman Allan
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time travel


I don't know how to write this story. I don't know even if we'll be alive tomorrow. And if we live long enough for you to read this, then it's probably all bull. But this is what the Professor told me. And he is a super star. They say he's the next Einstein. So I'll just tell it as it comes, what the hell.
      I bumped into Professor Norardny in a bar on Queen's Street this evening. A bit of a dive. Him in a back corner. Still wearing his hat, pulled down over his eyes. I'd have hardly noticed him if he hadn't cut such a sad figure, hardly recognized him if I hadn't seen him so often over the last few years. I've got the small office across from his suite of rooms in the Physic Building. "Professor," I said.
      He slowly put down his glass, wanly looked up. "Professor yourself," he said.
      "Why so glum?"
      "Oh, just the end of the world," says he.
      "May I sit?"
      "Suit yourself."
      I did.
      I'd best tell you about Norardny, though there are few who don't know something about him by now. He published his Noetic theory last year, on-line. Turned mind and consciousness into mathematics, and then a month later his meta-noetics turned matter into a sort of mind stuff, just like the mystics always said, and it and just happened to reconcile relativity and quantum. A theory of everything, and no ones been able to tear it down. Then there's the icing. For starters it seems about to solve all our energy problems with cheep, save, clean cold fusion.
      "So why aren't you on top of the world, after you've explained the world, and it's at your feet?"
      "Because, my friend, it's all going to end."
      "Well, I guess we knew that even before your noetics. All things are impermanent, the Buddha said."
      Norardny now fiddled with the straw that came with his drink, looking away from me, looking down, mumbling. "The effing Caliphate and the Chinese. They'll probably have at each other before this night over. Tonight, mate. Tonight. How's that for doomsdays prophesy. You'll know if I'm crazy, if not tonight, then by the end of the week."
      "I'm lost," I said. "Start at the beginning."
      "It's time travel," he said. "It's time travel, so we're all going to be dead."
      "There's no time travel."
      "Exactly!" he said, while I stared at him blankly. "Look," he said, "my theory allows for time to move both ways, and just as simply as it gave us cold fusion, it's a simple matter to push things either way through time and space."
      "But for the paradoxes," I said.
      "Oh, you'd get used to the paradoxes. Where do you think my noetics came from? When I had my theory halfway there, why there it was. I'd sent the answers back to me."
      "I'm sorry. You'll have to explain."
      "Okay. What I'm saying is that about the time I had half the picture, voila, there on my desk, a folder, scrawled large on the cover, in my hand, it said, "Here it is. Arthur Norardny. You're welcome." It was dated almost two years in the future. In fact, I just typed it out and sent it to myself a month back. You see, once you understand the noetics, time travel is a snap in theory, and not that hard in practice. Took a while to sort out the scaling, cause we're moving all the time, so you've got to get the knack of latching on to context: context glues you. It wasn't that difficult after all and I've been sending articles, things, to me for a year. I've been receiving things from the future for two years. You get used to it. Its a few months now I've been sending animals. Actually, one of the worrying things is that at the moment I don't actually have anything form the future."
      He paused. Stared at his drink. I let a moment pass and then said clumsily, "You're kidding me."
      "No," he half laughed. "Actually, it was a bit of a joke. First animals I sent were earthworms. Like Calvin."
      "Calvin and Hobbes. Never mind. Anyway, I've sent mice. I've sent the cat. I had two copies of The Pookey for a year, and they weren't clones. Himself it was, and he didn't much like himself. I had to keep him apart."
      "You're kidding."
      "Not a by of it,' said he. "Once you get used to, it's just the new norm. And that's the rub."
      "The rub?"
      "The problem. See, I've built the machine. The man size machine. The "Time Machine". And I've sent the cat back again with it. Yeah, for week I had three Pookeys. And I'm ready to go myself, tomorrow even, or the next day. And you see, the problem is, once there's time travel, there will always have been time travel."
      "Well, yes, I guess. But there isn't."
      "Just so. In any civilization where they develop time travel, it will always have been. They will live with time travel logic. Quite a different sort of place, causally. And I've built the machine. I've distributed the blue prints far and wide, just recently, once I was sure it was for real. There's only one thing that could stop it. And it obviously has."
      "I don't follow," I said.
      "Any civilization that would have developed far enough to have time travel will always have had time travel. And we obviously don't, so we won't. We won't develop that far. This civilization is going to come to an end. It's going to collapse, perish, be destroyed before time travel starts. Tomorrow!"
      "Who do you think is going to lob the first nuke," he continued. "The Chinese or the Caliphate?
      "Oh my God," I said. "You can't believe that."
      "Oh, you'll see," he said, rising and stumbling towards the door.

So here I am typing at my key-board in the middle of the night. It's daylight over there where the Caliphate and the Chinese are squabbling over India. And, oh my God, now I think I can hear the sirens starting to scream…